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Universal takes 49% stake in [PIAS]

By | Published on Wednesday 30 November 2022


Universal Music has taken a 49% stake in [PIAS], a key independent music company which encompasses a network of labels as well as its distribution and services division, which rebranded as [Integral] in early 2021.

[PIAS] announced a strategic partnership with Universal in June last year, under which the major would access the indie’s distribution and label services expertise, while [PIAS] would get access to Universal’s resources so “to further grow its global offering and strengthen its position as the leading independent services provider”.

At the time [PIAS] co-founder Kenny Gates said: “Almost 40 years since Michel Lambot and I launched [PIAS] we are as eager and driven as we ever were and remain wholly committed to providing independent labels and artists with a platform to reach a global audience. This new, somewhat unconventional, strategic agreement with UMG will help both companies maximise the many opportunities we know are available, while not compromising our independence whatsoever”.

Under the latest expansion of that partnership, Universal becomes a significant shareholder in the [PIAS] business. However, the proudly independent music group is very keen indeed to stress that [PIAS] will “remain fully independent and its founders Kenny Gates and Michel Lambot will retain majority control of the company – Universal Music Group will have no seats on the company’s board”.

On that expansion of the partnership, Gates said this morning: “These days we are competing with finance and tech giants, and a partner like Universal Music Group provides the additional support for us to compete and grow”.

“Universal made it clear that they like us, they trust us and they need us, because they can’t do what we do and they value it highly”, he added. “For Michel and I this is our life’s work and an ongoing journey and I am excited about the prospect of this new chapter in the life of [PIAS]. This move makes us stronger and secures the future of our brand, our staff and our partners while maintaining control of our destiny”.

Meanwhile, co-founder Lambot stated: “We have enjoyed an excellent relationship with the Universal Music Group team since we announced our strategic global alliance with them last year. Kenny and I are celebrating our company’s 40th anniversary this year and we are still as ambitious as we were when we started out about growing our global presence and providing a world class service to the independent music community”.

Speaking for the Universal side of this deal, the mega-major’s boss Lucian Grainge said: “The boldly independent and music-centric culture that Kenny and Michel have built over the last four decades has provided a vital creative network to so many artists”.

“While much of the past was focused on ‘majors versus indies’, it’s clear that today, the important divide in our industry is about those committed to artist development versus those committed to quantity over quality”, he went on. “We share Kenny and Michel’s passion for developing artists and moving culture, and we recognise that a healthy music ecosystem needs companies like [PIAS] who are committed to amplifying the best voices in independent music”.